Southwest Moves Closer to International Flights

Next month, the flight attendants of Southwest will vote on whether the airline should begin flights outside the continental U.S. including travel to destinations like Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and other cities throughout North and South America.

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The union vote, which gets underway on Sept. 5, would approve (or disapprove) contractual language that governs such flights. A similar agreement has already been OK’d by Southwest pilots. In practical terms, the agreement sets the stage for the airline to take over many of AirTran’s routes to the Caribbean and elsewhere.

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Southwest acquired the smaller carrier back in the spring of 2011 and it’s widely believed the Dallas-based airline is eager to expand; its executives have been talking about it for months. The agreement that flight attendants will vote on would pave the way for flights to countries such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru as well as AirTran Airways Inc. destinations in Aruba, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico. As air travel analyst Rick Seaney notes, new airline competition in a city generally means cheaper airfares.

Voting by the flight attendants is expected to be completed by Sept. 21.

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Published: August 22, 2012